One of the Cleveland Cavaliers' longstanding beliefs is to think big, swing big and always place an emphasis on upside and potential.
Facing a coaching field stocked with young assistants and older career retreads, the Cavs instead traveled 6,000 miles to find a 55-year-old NBA rookie coach full of upside and potential.
The Cavs chose David Blatt on Friday to be their 20th head coach, a league source with knowledge of the hire confirmed. Blatt will become the first coach to move directly from European basketball to a lead an NBA team.
Terms weren't immediately known, but ESPN reported it's a three-year deal with a club option on a fourth season. The total value of the contract could reach $20 million, one source with knowledge of the total value said, but it's unlikely to reach that figure given all of the incentives.
Blatt confirmed the hire Friday to David Pick, a Euroleague reporter.
"It's done," Blatt told Pick. "Couldn't be more excited. Can't wait for challenge."
A challenge it most certainly will be.
Blatt departed as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv earlier this month after winning the Israeli League and Euroleague titles to pursue an NBA job, knowing he'd either land in Cleveland as the head coach or Golden State as an assistant under Steve Kerr.
But the Warriors were pressing Blatt for an answer, and when talks with the Cavs intensified Thursday night, the Warriors moved quickly to name Alvin Gentry -- one of the finalists for the Cavs' job -- as Kerr's top assistant.
Blatt openly conceded following a thrilling Euroleague Final Four he didn't have the most talented team, but he certainly coaxed the most out of them.
Now he must learn not only his own players, but the other 29 teams in the NBA. Rarely has he ever coached the caliber of talent he'll see now. Anthony Parker, for example, is a legend and former star for Maccabi Tel Aviv. In the NBA, he was a journeyman.
Parker, however, has previously referred to Blatt as his favorite coach and one of the best in the world. Parker declined to comment on Blatt until the contract negotiations are complete.
Blatt typically runs a Princeton-style offense, which is predictable since he played under legendary Princeton coach Pete Carill. Former Cavs coach Byron Scott tried running a Princeton-style offense when he arrived, but quickly scrapped it because the players were struggling to grasp it.
He tried again in subsequent seasons, but with little success.
Blatt will be the Cavs' third coach in three seasons after Mike Brown was fired after one year. They will be paying Brown for another four years -- or the total potential length of Blatt's contract.
This coaching search lasted 39 days and involved a plethora of candidates. The Cavs tried unsuccessfully to woo a big-name college coach, reportedly offering John Calipari in excess of $60 million, but were turned down.
They were intrigued by Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, who has never served as a head coach, and Gentry is close to Cavs General Manager David Griffin and was always considered one of the favorites to land the job.
But Gentry, 59, doesn't carry a splashy name or elicit much buzz, which is always important to this ownership group. And although Blatt is certainly an unknown in the U.S., he is well known in basketball circles both here and abroad.
Blatt grew up in Massachusetts and is a dual citizen of Israel and the U.S. who has long dreamed of coaching in the NBA.
"No doubt in my mind I can do the job," Blatt told USA Today last month. "Obviously someone has to want you."
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